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Letter: At-large elections muddy the results

Maribel Touré, attorney Fred Brewington and Ricky Cooke

Maribel Touré, attorney Fred Brewington and Ricky Cooke at a news conference at Brewington's Hempstead office Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Hempstead school board vote debacle is a good example of why Sachem voters should not have changed from the head-to-head system to an at-large system ["Insiders failing Hempstead," Editorial, May 28].

The at-large proposition passed overwhelmingly because, on its face, seating the top vote-getters in an election is the fairest way, right? Not exactly.

This case demonstrates that at-large elections focus on arithmetic rather than issues. In Hempstead, incumbent board president Betty Cross has led Hempstead schools to the lowest graduation rates anywhere. Her tenure has been rife with nepotism, cronyism and allegations of corruption. Some residents launched a concerted effort to defeat her in this election. Even Newsday's editorial page took the unusual step of endorsing candidates against her.

Unfortunately, endorsing a candidate in an at-large election is pretty much worthless. Had candidate Ricky A. Cooke Sr. been able to challenge Cross head-to-head, he still would have won with 802 votes, while Cross would have been sent packing with 719 votes.

I believe the Sachem residents were sold a bill of goods that will haunt them in future elections.

Jim Kiernan, Holbrook

Editor's note: The writer, a former president of the Sachem school board, was defeated in 2006.